When our children were little, we had an Advent routine. In the evening, we would light the appropriate candles on our Advent wreath. We would read from a children’s book that featured a different scripture reading for each day, and then we would sing a song together.
We also created a manger scene. In the beginning, we used pieces of Duplo (a toddler version of LEGO) to create our crèche. We put the pieces together to form a manger and had animals around it. We had a figurine for Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.
Our children would play with the Duplo manger scene and retell the story in their own way. Then, at one point, the baby Jesus was lost. We looked everywhere but couldn’t find him.
Months later, well past Christmas, we heard our eldest calling loudly, with his toddler accent, “I found Jesus! I found Jesus!” (It sounded more like, “I found Jeju! I found Jeju!”) When he presented the long-lost Duplo figure, we realized what he was so excited about. Indeed, he had found Jesus.
Thinking about the Christmas story, I realize there were others who needed help to find the baby. The angels announced to the shepherds “abiding in their fields keeping watch over their flocks by night” that they would, “find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”
Evidently, the angels were quite convincing. We read, “they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.”
That’s how Luke captures things.
Matthew has Magi from the east come to Jerusalem and ask King Herod, “Where is the one who was born king of the Jews?” Herod didn’t know. He called for experts and was told the ruler would be born in Bethlehem. Herod instructed the Magi to “go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
As you well know, he wasn’t really going to worship the rival ruler. He was going to kill him. The Magi, on the other hand, were led by a star and found the house where the child was living and presented him with gifts.
Many years later, and after the crucifixion, again people couldn’t find Jesus. Luke tells us, “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb…when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.”
The angels again tell where to find him. The women, like the shepherds, believe the angels and understand that Jesus is risen. When they (Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them) tell the apostles, “They did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.”
Finding a leader in a manger or finding a grown man risen from the dead, for some, seems nonsensical.
Maybe we need the sense of a toddler. Maybe we will find Jesus during this Advent and Christmas season in ways we don’t expect.
May you have a blessed Christmas.
The Rev. Dr. Daniel Scott, Moderator
P.S. Be sure to follow the Synod of CNOB’s interactive Advent calendar at cnob.org and listen for my greeting on Christmas Day.